Colby hoping more are willing to get vaccinated

·2 min read

Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health is hoping to change some minds regarding vaccines.

While “anti-vaxxers” only make up about three percent of the population, they’re very vocal. The problem, however, is that they don’t have scientific facts to support their beliefs, said Dr. David Colby.

He said health professionals had tried many different ways to get “anti-vaxxers” and those who are hesitant about getting vaccinated in general to change their minds, but nothing has worked. Although public messaging strategies have changed several times without any measurable success, he added public health would keep trying to change minds.

Colby reported last week that half of the local long-term care workers either haven’t got around to getting a shot or have refused the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he hopes that half of the local long-term care workers who haven’t got their shot will go out and get the vaccine to keep themselves and others healthy.

He added he doesn’t take lightly to those who don’t isolate when told to do so.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” said Colby. “I don’t tolerate people who don’t isolate when they’re told to isolate, and I hit them with a Section 22 order very rapidly, which involves a $5,000 a day fine if they’re caught violating their isolation precautions. That settles people down very, very quickly.”

Dr. Colby still has not been told when pharmacies in Chatham-Kent will begin the vaccination program. He added that participating pharmacies in the region would not turn away anyone eligible from outside of the jurisdiction wanting a vaccine.

Additionally, voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in local schools has seen low turnout at Sarnia and Chatham’s two recent clinics. Kent Orr, the Chatham-Kent Lambton Administrative School Services General Manager, said only 100 people participated in Sarnia, and 60 took part in the Chatham clinic. He added the five-week program would be extended to get staff and students tested.

Meanwhile, Colby said he believes Chatham-Kent will remain in the Red-Control level of Ontario’s Framework, based on the current numbers and historical data. He said the recent numbers have plateaued, and the province hasn’t told him anything different.

“Just looking at the patterns over the last year, we often see sharp rises in our active cases when things are going on and then they level-off, and then they start to decrease again,” said Colby. “It’s been kind of a cyclical thing as we are on this roller coaster.”

To date, nearly 19,000 people in Chatham-Kent have received a COVID-19 vaccine. As of Friday, March 26, there are 97 active cases in Chatham-Kent.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News